Spring Fling 2015

As South West Scotland's artists and designers open their studios for this year's Spring Fling, we take a look at the array of events in store

Preview by Morgan McTiernan | 28 Apr 2015

Now in its 13th year, renowned open studios event Spring Fling will take place from 23 to 25 May around Dumfries and Galloway.

Focussed on visual art and contemporary craft, the event brought a staggering £1.4 million to the local economy in 2014, attracting over 13,000 visitors to southwest Scotland. Art ranging from photography, painting and jewellery to textiles, glass, ceramics and furniture will be on display, with 95 artists taking part this time round. 

Spring Fling is not only an opportunity to see beautiful artwork by Scottish creatives, but also to access their work spaces, with the majority of the events being held in the artists' working environments. As director Leah Black comments, “Spring Fling is all about unusual places, fascinating people and superb visual art and craft. It’s a chance to see inside the studios and homes where some amazingly talented people live and work."

This event is perfect for the craft-curious and the downright nosey, with spaces including an old historic grain warehouse; an array of farms, cottages and converted barns and stables; as well as an intriguing working studio belonging to photographer Laura Hudson Mackay, who will exhibit her work in her home – a 16th century tower house that once belonged to Lady Dervogilla of Galloway. “It’s a dream home for me because I love the ethereal and the otherworldly," she explains. "This is a fairytale Scottish castle with pepper pot turrets, set in the most beautiful imaginable countryside.” That fairytale castle will host her exhibition, where images will be on display from her camper van treks through Europe and North Africa, to Marrakesh and into the Sahara.

"Spring Fling is all about unusual places, fascinating people and superb visual art and craft" – Leah Black

Other exhibitors to look out for include jewellery designer and goldsmith Michael Pell, who was part of the Glasgow School of Art team who created the medals for last year's Commonwealth games. Having previously studied in Sydney, his studio is now located in rural Galloway, where nature and architecture provide inspiration for his work, together with ideas drawn from individual experiences of location, environment and history.

Contemporary jeweller Joanne Garner, who is based in Brydekirk, and is stocked in galleries such as the Craft and Design Centre in Leeds, is definitely worth a visit. Garner's work is mainly made from silver and gold but is also peppered with non-traditional jewellery material details such as textiles. Aiming to "create pieces which are a chic, edgy alternative to high street jewellery and which appeal to the individual with a specific eye for design," she creates structural pieces which are inspired by natural landscapes, as well as vintage costume jewellery. Her use of brightly-coloured gemstones, such as garnets set within dark oxidised silver, are striking and extremely wearable.

Another highlight is sure to be Glasgow School of Art graduate Shona Guthrie. Guthrie's work references the night sky, her surrounding environment and also the written word. Using photography as a fundamental stage of the design process, and constructing visual diaries of environments, she translates this into unique pieces of jewellery that combine precious and non-precious metals in vibrant colour contrasts, and reference shapes found in nature.

If jewellery isn't your thing, textiles artist Morag Macpherson designs and makes stunning, bold and brightly-coloured pieces with surface pattern designs inspired by art movements in history, different cultures, and forms both urban and natural. These designs are digitally applied to natural linens, crisp cottons, pure silks, fine wools and – recently – wallpapers. In addition to this, Macpherson makes scarves, cushions, bags, throws and even kimonos (our personal favourite!).

Although the open studio weekend begins at the end of May, Spring Fling hosts other exhibitions in the lead up to this main event. The German capital recently hosted the inaugural international exhibition – as part of Spring Show: Berlin, the Making Art show at Green Hill Gallery in Kulturschoepfer showed the work of 12 artists and designers from Scotland. As Black tells us, "This exhibition offers Berliners a taste of what’s happening in Dumfries and Galloway, which is one of Scotland’s most creative regions. We hope it will really challenge people’s perceptions of the relationship between visual art and craft.”

Spring Fling is inspired by and centres around the artists of South West Scotland, allowing visitors to gain an insight into the workings of their craft as well as promoting the diversity of talent that Scotland has to offer.

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